In a scene from the movie, Forest Gump, Forest is talking to a young women that appears to be a nurse at a bus stop. In his typical style, he rambles from one topic to another occasionally interjecting, “Momma always said…” When he notices her nursing shoes, the following dialogue ensues.
Forest: I bet you could walk all day in shoes like that and not feel a thing. I wish I had shoes like that!
The Lady: My feet hurt.
I currently work on an assembly line. We work about 50 hours a week right now and all of it is standing. My daughter is a nurse and spends a lot of time on her feet. I’m sure there are various professions that walk constantly like some postal workers. My other daughter and son-in-law have worked jobs where they spent the entire day on their feet.
I imagine that our bodies were probably designed more for this walking than sitting. When I worked in an office, I was constantly trying to stay ahead of the back pain that plagued me often.
After the first few days at my current job, I inquired at work to find the magic solution to the blisters and corns and other uncomfortable side-effects of doing this type of job. One person pointed me to good insoles as a comfort. “That really helped me,” she said. Other people stressed the importance of good shoes to combat the continual pressure of standing for long periods.
After trying several things and complaining to one team leader, he just kind of gave me a look. Then, he paused for a a second and said, “Well, in this job, your feet are going to hurt.”
There it was. I had to accept it. In this job, it was important for me to accept that my feet would experience pain every day, even after the callouses hardened and my body was in better shape. Like the woman at the bus stop, it was important to acknowledge that my feet hurt, but probably just as important to realize there was no practical way to avoid it short of finding another job.
Accepting harsh realities of anything helps me endure them. Part of being present is understanding what is happening in the present moment and not necessarily wishing for something else, but accepting it how it is. It may seem like settling, but it’s more like contentment than anything. I’m not trying to fool myself into liking it, I’m just acknowledging the reality so that I don’t invest all of my energy in regret and avoidance.
Leaning into pain is one of the topics I talk about in my new book, “Being – A Journey Toward Presence and Authenticity.” If we do not face the painful parts of our life, we find ourselves avoiding and numbing our way through everything. Leaning into the painful parts builds courage and strength even though it makes us feel vulnerable.
I told someone at work yesterday, “My feet hurt,” much like the lady at the bus stop. They immediately tried to find me a solution, but I reminded them that I’m 56 and it’s probably just one of the realities of working there. She just kind of nodded in agreement and for a moment acknowledged my resolve to “be with” the pain we all experience on the assembly line.
Part of me wants to wish for pain-free existences and another part of me knows it is often necessary. My hope for you is that you will be present and authentic in your struggles. Sometimes, this even helps the pain diminish because we become accustomed to the activity.
I do hope that we don’t create pain for ourselves or others. There is enough that is inevitably part of our existence. We don’t need to cause more than is necessary.
I want to be brave enough to admit, “my feet hurt,” and authentic enough to be where I am with integrity. I’m not looking for magic ways of escape even though the path may change in the near future. “This is where I am today,” is enough to navigate most painful paths I have to walk. It’s not giving up to accept where I am — It is presence.
Be where you are, Be who you are,